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MX track kicks up dust in Chalfant

March 5, 2011

The motocross track put in by the Garcia family on their property in Chalfant. Mammoth Times Photo/Wendilyn Grasseschi

A motocross-like track on private land in Chalfant has some neighbors upset even as others signed a petition of support for the track.

The issue goes before the Mono County Planning Commission next week, on March 10 in Mammoth.

The track was bulldozed onto an approximately one-acre portion of an 18-acre parcel belonging to Sue Jenson, her daughter Naomi Garcia and son-in-law Adam Garcia, all residents of the community of West Chalfant.

The track was put in last December by the Garcias, who said they are avid motocross fans, who want to “train, exercise and prepare” for the upcoming Mammoth Motocross this summer.

But the track ran afoul of both Mono County officials and the neighbors living directly adjacent to the track – the county because the Garcias did not get a grading permit before they put the track in and neighbors because they are worried about noise and other possible problems.

The county also made an initial finding that a motocross track is not an appropriate use of the Garcias’ land, which is zoned estate residential, according to county code compliance officer, Nick Chriss.

On the other hand, a petition in support of the Garcias’ right to put a motocross track on their property was placed at the counter of the general store in Chalfant and received 188 signatures (not all from Chalfant) as of this week, according to the county’s code compliance officer, Nick Chriss.

The end result is a complicated question for the planning commission: Is a motocross track an appropriate use of the Garcias’ private, rural, property, or not?

“We feel the county is trying to intimidate us into not exercising our rights to develop our private property,” Naomi Garcia said Wednesday.

“This use is in conformance with the general plan, is similar to allowable uses of private land, and is not more objectionable to the vast majority of residents in the area.

“Complaints have been from isolated, ultra-sensitive individuals and, in at least one case, based on false information that exaggerated the facts. This track is for private, family use only, and is located in a small area in the far corner of a large parcel, which is in turn bordered on two sides by open land.”

Garcia said she considers the motocross track to be “not more objectionable” than the uses already permitted in estate residential zoning, such as keeping horses.

The “not more objectionable” standard is one of the criteria used to guide decision makers, such as the planning commission, in deciding if a proposed use is appropriate for the site and location.

Garcia also cited the fact that so many people had signed the petition as proof that most people in Chalfant are fine with the track.

But one of the Garcias’ closest neighbors said that if the people who signed the petition had to live right next to the track, they would think again.

“This is not about one person riding around on a dirt bike,” said Brett Wylie. “Unfortunately it is not the people who signed the petition who will have to deal with the substantial noise, nuisance and dust that will be created by the use of this track.”

Wylie, who has lived on the property since 1987, said every one of the property owners who lives directly adjacent to the track opposes the project.

Chriss said the final determination about whether the project is appropriate under Mono County’s General Plan is for the planning commission to wrestle with.

If the Garcias don’t like the planning commission’s decision, they can appeal it before the county board of supervisors at a later date.

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